Kemp, Franciscus Adriaan van der (1752-1829)

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Franciscus Adriaan van der Kemp was born 4 May 1752 of Dutch Reformed parents at Kampen, Netherlands, and prepared for a military career. At the University of Groningen (1770-1773) he heard lectures on the most varied subjects. In 1773 he entered the Mennonite seminary in Amsterdam, and the next year became a member of the Mennonite church. He became a ministerial candidate in 1775 and served the congregations of Huizen 1775-1777 and Leiden 1777-1787. His effervescence and his radical ideas were the cause of many difficulties. Yet a severe illness made it apparent that a large proportion of his congregation was attached to him. But this affection grew cool as van der Kemp became more and more involved in politics, and threw all the force of his character into the cause of democracy on the side of the Patriot movement. In 1775 the Patriots sympathized with the Colonies in the American struggle for independence against England, and van der Kemp openly espoused their cause. He became a close friend of John Adams, the American commissioner in Holland 1780 ff. He published a number of sermons: Het gedrag van Israel en Rehabeam, ten spiegel van Volk en Vorst, followed by Staatkundige Aanmerkingen (Leiden, 1782), Elftal Kerkelijke Redevoeringen (Leiden, 1782), Viertal Leerredenen, op Bedestonden gehouden (Leiden, 1783).

In 1785 he was granted a leave of absence to travel. In Wijk-bij-Duurstede he joined the secret military society Pro pace et bello and soon resigned his pastorate to become captain of a militia company. In June 1787 he was arrested in Amersfoort, and released in November on the condition that he leave the country.

On 4 May 1788 van der Kemp landed in New York. His reception by eminent Americans included an invitation by George Washington to Mount Vernon. He became a farmer, and acquired American citizenship. He lived for six years near Kingston, New York, and then established a home at Oneida Lake, and finally at Barneveld. He found old and new friends, and inner quiet. His love for preaching revived, his political fervor subsided. In 1803 he assisted in forming a union for church services in his home town, Olden Barneveld; Sunday school was held in his home.

He continued to write devotional and learned articles, using the English language from now on. Harvard awarded him the LL.D. degree. In 1817 he wrote an account of his romantic life for his only son. He died on 7 September 1829.


Dictionary of American Biography, v. 19. New York, 1936.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1907): 99-151

Fairchild, Helen. Franciscus Adrian van der Kemp 1752-1829: An Autobiography. New York and London, 1903.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 481.

Jackson, Harry F. Scholar in the wilderness: Francis Adrian Van der Kemp. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1963.

Molhuysen, P. C. and  P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek, 10 vols. Leiden, 1911-1937: v. 8, 953-958.

Poole, L.G. le. Bijdragen tot de Kennis van het herkelijk leven onder de Doopsgezinden . . . te Leiden. Leiden, 1905.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Biographisch Woordenboek von Protestantsche Godgeleerden in Nederland. The Hague: J. P. de Bie and J. Loosjes, 1903-: v. 4, 706-718

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Kemp, Franciscus Adriaan van der (1752-1829)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 13 Apr 2024.,_Franciscus_Adriaan_van_der_(1752-1829)&oldid=144224.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Kemp, Franciscus Adriaan van der (1752-1829). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 April 2024, from,_Franciscus_Adriaan_van_der_(1752-1829)&oldid=144224.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 164. All rights reserved.

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